Evaluating the susceptibility of invasive black rats (Rattusrattus) and house mice (Mus musculus) to brodifacoumas a prelude to rodent eradication on Lord Howe Island
The use of anticoagulant rodenticides to eradicate invasive rodents from islands has become a powerful tool to prevent species extinctions and to restore degraded ecosystems. Success is dependent on all targeted individuals consuming rodenticide and dying as a result. Because susceptibility to anticoagulants can vary among rodent populations, it is important when planning an eradication to understand the efficacy of the proposed rodenticide on the target animals, particularly where there has been historic exposure to anticoagulants. The aims of this study were to investigate brodifacoum-susceptibility of black rats Rattus rattus and house mice Mus musculus on Lord Howe Island (LHI), Australia, where an eradication program is being planned. Black rats and house mice were subjected to various dosages of brodifacoum in a series of laboratory feeding trials. The results showed that rats on LHI died after consuming doses of rodenticide within expected ranges (60% died at 0.5 mg kg−1 and 100% died at 0.8 mg kg−1) when exposed to bait for 24 h. Mice, on the other hand, were more tolerant of the rodenticide, with 82% of individuals surviving doses of up to 2.0 mg kg−1 consumed over 24 h and some individuals needing 6.0 mg kg−1 consumed over 4 days to ingest a lethal dose. A laboratory experiment designed to simulate field application showed that all mice tested succumbed to brodifacoum poisoning when given the opportunity to consume sufficient bait (at least 6 days of exposure to toxic bait), although some individuals took 22 days to die. The results of these studies will help inform the Lord Howe Island rodent eradication.